SHAH ALAM: The Shah Alam High Court today ruled that Islamic authorities in Selangor have no right to stop religious activities of the Ahmadiah community, who follow a sect which Muslims generally regard as being outside the fold of Islam.
Judge Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera also ruled that the Selangor Islamic Department (JAIS) has no right to bring charges against members of the sect for violating a state fatwa against the Ahmadiah teachings.
Thiry-nine members of the sect had challenged JAIS for trying to charge them with shariah offences, on the basis that Islamic authorities in Selangor do not recognise Ahmadiah Muslims as Muslims.
The court ruled that the Selangor Islamic religious authorities have no jurisdiction over Ahmadi Muslims in the state.
The judge said this was the result of a fatwa gazetted by the state in 2001 that this group was considered as apostates.
Vazeer also allowed the relief sought by the 39 Ahmadi applicants that the religious authorities had no jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute them for offences under the state Islamic criminal enactment.
“A bond to order them to appear in the Shariah to face charges is also quashed,” Vazeer said in his oral judgment in allowing their judicial review application.
The judge also ordered the state chief Shariah prosecutor and chief religious enforcement officer to stop their investigations against the applicants.
The judge also ordered five defendants – chief religious enforcement officer, the investigating officer, JAIS, state chief shariah prosecutor and the Selangor government – to pay the applicants RM25,000 in costs.
Four years ago, the 39 filed a judicial review following JAIS’ arrest of its community members.
They included eight Pakistani asylum seekers, two Indian nationals, an Indonesian and three minors — for performing Friday prayers on Apr 11, 2014 at the community’s centre in Batu Caves, Selangor.
The group was informed that they had not obtained written permission to use the premises — a shoplot in Dolomite Park, Batu Caves — for purposes which may only be carried out on, in or by a mosque, contrary to Section 97 of the Administration of the Religion of Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003.
The group was granted leave by the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Aug 14, 2014, before the proceedings were transferred to the Shah Alam High Court on Sept 15, 2015.
Lawyer Aston Paiva told reporters the essence of today’s ruling was that the Ahmadi Muslims could manage their religious affairs without interference from the state religious authorities.
In his submission previously, Paiva said the community should be allowed to practise their faith since they were not considered Muslims by Selangor.
He said Jais could not attempt to charge the community with shariah offences when they had refused to recognise the Muslim sect as adherents.
“This is not an apostasy case where they say that they renounce Islam. That cannot happen to an Ahmadi. An Ahmadi will never say they are no longer a Muslim. It defeats their whole purpose,” he said.
“In other words, the government has treated them as non-Muslims, so they should just be treated how they want to be treated.
“On the one hand, you say they are not Muslims; on the other hand, you are arresting them and taking them to the Shariah Court to face charges,” Paiva said.
The Ahmadis, who are derogatorily called Qadianis here, adhere to the same beliefs as the Sunni branch of Islam, but also believe that their founder Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was the Imam Mahdi.